A lack of effective tools for dealing with violence among children and teenagers has led to despair, anxiety, and a wave of harsh, mainstream punishment approaches, such as the zero-tolerance-policy, invoking the use of surveillance cameras and suspensions. Educators and parents need an innovative solution to violence that differs from other attempts, which have thus far failed to yield their intended results.
Matzmichim (Uplifters) was founded with the intention of developping and implementing innovative strategies and specific professional tools for dealing with group violence. Using practical training tools, Matzmichim (Uplifters) works to enhance pupils’ social-emotional skills, which enables them to individually and collectively deal with negative group dynamics and promote a positive classroom climate.
Over the last years, we have constantly increased the amount of workshops we conduct. This comes with new challenges, as the topics we address in our workshops (violence, bullying, racism, sexism etc.) are usually not spoken openly about within the school communities. We create a space for pupils to talk about the difficulties they face in their everyday lives and at school. We pay close attention to their changing needs in order to adapt our workshops in an adequate way.
The workshop length is three full school days.
Hundreds of workshops take place every year all over the country. Matzmichim (Uplifters) works successfully with both primary schools as well as junior and senior high schools. A significant part of the work is done in periphery schools and with youth-at-risk.
Target groups of our workshops are traditionally pupils as well as educators and school staff. In recent years, we have developped a workshop concept for a new essential target group: Parents. We are now holding workshops with parents as well as pupils and parents in order to include and empower them.
The aim of our workshops is to offer tools, techniques and non-violent solutions to verbal and physical harassment, humiliation, threats, rumors, shunning, shaming, other sorts of bullying, extortion, theft, sexual violence and other challenging situations.
In recent years, we developed an empowerment conception in which pupils’ strengths flourish. The model is designed to serve as an incentive for abandoning the use of aggression as a tool to improve social status and replace it with pro-social behavior. This serves to increase the popularity of the pupils who contribute to the psychological well-being of the classroom, making them positive role models in their peer group.
We believe that pupils’ awareness of their ability to deal with violence should be enhanced. Therefore, we provide them with the personal and group tools to accomplish this.
We don’t focus on aggressors or victims specifically, but include the entire classroom and the “silent majority” within. We focus on strengthening the trust and cooperation among pupils as well as their support systems.
Our activities are mainly games and excercises that include all the pupils in a classroom. They reflect the social conduct as well as underlying norms and values which are present in the classrooms. We are able to start a conversion about these topics by asking specific questions, allowing authentic emotional and feedback in a safe space. This allows pupils to reflect themselves, their behavior and the way they effect their environment. Positive role models are strengthend at the same time as incentives for anti-social, aggressive and violent behavior is decreased. In this way, we provide an opportunity for change from within and give pupils a chance to learn how to cope with various forms of social violence.
For examples of our activities, please follow this link and scroll to the bottom of the page.